In Fall 2017, International Students in KPU's Post-Baccalaureate program in Human Resources Management were offered the option to register in dedicated international-student focused sections of these courses. At the request of the course faculty in three of these courses, I facilitated in-class writing workshops targeted at the skills needed for major writing assignments in the course.
The workshops took place in the following courses:
HRMT 3105: Human Resources Information Systems and Data
HRMT 3115: Human Relations in Organizations
HRMT 3135: Recruitment and Selection
Each workshop took about 90 minutes to present. Content include metacognitive reflection on assignment requirements, orientation to the features of writing required for the assignment, analysis of example texts, and a brief discussion of pertinent style and grammatical issues.
Preparing a Research Briefing
Written assignments in this course are generally brief, allowing students to focus on learning the general conventions of business writing. Because the focus assignment was new to the course, a sample of student work was not available. Instead, students analyzed an example of similar writing to reflect on business writing conventions, and how they might apply the principles discovered to their own assignments. Considerable time was also spent facilitating student thinking about the assignment rubrics and criteria for success in the assignment.
Reflective Writing for ePortfolios
Reflective writing is a new skill for most students in the HRMT program. The workshop began by describing reflective writing. Students then completed a short exercise to practice responding to questions by integrating experience and course content. Then, students analyzed a successful example of a student portfolio page, evaluating how the student's work reflected the assignment criteria.
Writing a Case Analysis
This workshop had two key goals:
1. To help students differentiate between business writing and reflective writing, choosing an appropriate tone for their business report.
2. To orient students to the structure and format expected in a business report.
As in the Research Briefing workshop, there were no available examples of student work connected to the assignment. Considerable focus was given to the content of executive summaries, particularly the features that distinguish an executive summary from an introduction or conclusion.
Reflection on the Workshops
The courses where the workshops were offered were specifically designed to focus on the learning needs of an international student cohort. As the courses were new this year, in some cases there was not a sample of student writing available. This required some modifications from my preferred approach. In these cases, students spent a part of the workshop working with a sample of business writing that differed slightly from their current assignment. I am interested in evaluating further what value this offers to the students. These workshops were generally more challenging to develop; as a process rather than a content-expert, I struggled to develop my own understanding of the expectations of the students' writing task.
Each of the workshops included some activities that developed student metacognitive skills. These were structured around the assignment rubrics. Reflecting on the workshops, this may have been the most successful aspect of each of the three workshops, as the students gained skills in understanding assignment requirements and evaluating whether they are successfully meeting the requirements. I would be interested to know how many of the workshop participants intentionally used their assignment rubrics later on in their writing process.
Finally, I would be interested in conducting some additional evaluation, both from an instructor and student point of view. Reflecting on this experience, a future personal goal is to become more intentional in building evaluating mechanisms from student and faculty points of view into the workshop design process.